Case Study: Substantial Compensation for Delayed Glaucoma Diagnosis

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Kate McCue

Medical Negligence Associate Solicitor

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A Medical Negligence Claim Case Study – Client Situation

In 2007, Stephen Colfer started experiencing falls due to his eyesight. He then went to the optician, who suspected he may have glaucoma linked to his diabetes.

Glaucoma is a very common eye disease where the optic nerve (which connect the eye to the brain) becomes damaged. This is usually due to fluid build-up in the front of the eye, which creates pressure and effects your eyesight. According to the National Institute of Health, you are twice as likely to develop glaucoma or cataracts if you are diabetic – which Stephen was.

He was referred to the Northwick Park Hospital Clinic, run by Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – but no evidence of glaucoma was identified. As a result, he was discharged and no follow-up checks, such as annual or biannual optometric re-examinations were arranged or recommended.

Over the following seven years, Mr Colfer had no further examinations of his eyes, other than the routine screenings every year due to his diabetes. He continued to have the falls, but due to the reassurance he’d received in 2007, he didn’t consider eye disease as the cause. But in 2014, he began suffering more serious falls and started noticing blurred vision in his right eye – which caused him to seek medical attention.

After seeing his GP and an optician, he was seen by an ophthalmologist, who diagnosed him with primary open-angle glaucoma. Mr Colfer was subsequently reviewed at Moorfields Glaucoma Clinic, after which a consultant ophthalmologist told his GP he should have been advised to have thorough eye check-ups each year back in 2007.

As a consequence of this delayed diagnosis, Mr Colfer decided to complain to Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust about the care he’d received seven years earlier. He underwent an operation to stabilise the pressure in his right eye in March 2015, but is likely to lose his remaining visual fields over the next five to ten years as a result of his glaucoma.

Even when treated, it is expected that 15-20% of patients will become blind within 15 years of the follow up. Sadly, this statistic is far higher for those with diabetes.

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How We Helped

Mr Colfer decided to take legal action against the Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and approached our Medical Negligence Solicitors for help with getting compensation. His case was taken on by our Medical Negligence team with the assistance of a specialist paralegal in medical negligence claims.

When presenting the case, the solicitor argued that had Mr Colfer undergone annual or biannual optometric re-examinations, his glaucoma would have been diagnosed by 2010, when it would have been far less advanced.

Due to the failure to diagnose and treat the condition before 2014, Mr Colfer’s loss of sight has been accelerated by a period of ten years, and his deteriorating sight is likely to impact on every aspect of his life. For instance, he is now unable to drive, safely cross roads or take public transport without help. Furthermore, his ability to walk and negotiate steps is already noticeably impaired, which is a problem as he lives alone in a second-floor flat.

Mr Colfer will require significant professional care and assistance as his sight continues to deteriorate, as well as more suitable housing with ground-floor access, special adaptations and modified equipment to assist with everyday activities.

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust admitted breach of duty and accepted an offer of mediation with our client. Though most treatment delivered by medical professionals in the NHS is of a very high standard, sometimes they can make mistakes, and fall below their required duty of care – which is called a “breach of duty”.

The mediation was highly successful in this case, as it enabled both sides to meet amicably and come to a fair and reasonable compensation settlement before substantial legal costs could be incurred. As an added bonus, Mr Colfer received an apology and reassurances that lessons had been learned from his experience – so that others don’t face the same consequences that Mr Colfer did.

The Outcome

Moorfields Eye Hospital NHS Foundation Trust offered to pay substantial compensation settlement, which was happily accepted by our client Mr Colfer.

It can be difficult to know whether your care amounts to a breach of duty. You could be eligible if a healthcare professional has:

  • misdiagnosed or failed to diagnose your condition
  • prescribed the wrong medication
  • not provided sufficient information of the side-effects or risks of an operation
  • made an error during surgery

For medical negligence to be proven, it must be shown ‘on the balance of probability’ that the care you received did not meet typical standards and caused your injury or illness.

How Simpson Millar Can Help You 

We can offer a free initial consultation where one of our Medical Negligence Solicitors will let you know if you can make a claim.

If we can help you, we’ll handle your claim on a No Win, No Fee basis. So, you don’t need to worry about paying us anything if your claim isn’t successful.

We work with a wide range of independent medical experts who specialise in many different areas of medicine.

If we can show that you have suffered a breach of duty and that it has caused you harm, one of our Solicitors can arrange for you to be seen by a medical expert who will put together a medical report outlining your condition. We’ll use this report to determine how much compensation you should be given to cover your immediate and future needs.

We understand that taking legal action can be daunting, but we pride ourselves on our friendly and supportive approach. When you come to us, you can expect a personal service tailored to you and your needs. Call us on 0808 239 6043, and let us help you.


NHS. (n.d.). Glaucoma. Retrieved from

Moorfields NHS. (n.d.). Moorfields Eye Centre, Northwick Park. Retrieved from

Glaucoma Research Foundation. (n.d.). What is Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma? Retrieved from

American Academy of Ophthalmology. (n.d.). What is an Ophthalmologist? Retrieved from

Simpson Millar. (n.d.). Breach of Duty in Medical Negligence Claims Explained. Retrieved from

Kate McCue

Medical Negligence Associate Solicitor

Areas of Expertise:
Medical Negligence

Kate joined the Clinical Negligence department at Simpson Millar in January 2023 after previously working at Chris Kallis Solicitors in Plymouth. Kate qualified as a solicitor in 2004 and has developed extensive experience in both Personal Injury and Medical Negligence.   

Initially Kate started working as a Defendant Solicitor for firms such as Bond Pearce LLP and DAC Beachcroft Claims Ltd. This has allowed Kate to develop a tactical advantage to her cases, using the experience of how a claim is dealt with from a Defendant’s perspective. 

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